Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering in Thailand

General FAQs

What is Cultural Canvas Thailand?

Cultural Canvas Thailand is a non-profit, non-government organization. Please visit our About Us section to read about our mission, background and philosophy.

Where is Cultural Canvas Thailand located?

We are located in the city of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

How Can I get involved?

You can get involved by reading through our site carefully, familiarizing yourself with the issues, volunteering and by spreading the word.

Educating others of these issues is the main way to truly make a difference. This will in turn generate awareness, funds, government pressure/action, reduced social stigmas, and hopefully, change.

Who is right for Cultural Canvas Thailand?

Everyone over the age of eighteen who wants to broaden their horizons, see new and different places and people, face fresh challenges with a sense of adventure and who can give a minimum of three weeks volunteer time is right for Cultural Canvas. We welcome service from all walks of life and levels of experience. No specific training is required but becoming acquainted with the issues pertaining to your placement prior to arrival in Chiang Mai is a good idea. If you have an interest or background in a related area, for example we are always interested in people with an art background for our Art Relief program, that is a double bonus for us.

Volunteers should be self-motivated, patient, team-oriented, compassionate, independent and respectful.  Remember that the issues you will be dealing with can be challenging, both physically and emotionally.  Please read carefully through this website to be sure that you are up to the task.  We look forward to your enthusiasm.

Cultural Canvas Thailand is right for: Working People, Professionals and “Career Gappers”, Full-time Students and Teachers, Gap Year Students and Retirees.


Application FAQs

How far ahead do I need to apply?

We feel it is important to plan early, and we ask that you apply 90 days before the placement’s starting date. This will help to ensure your place in a desired project and also give you adequate time to prepare by reading up on your chosen project and Thai culture. If your chosen start date is within 90 days, please send us an email we will try to get you involved.

Can non-U.S. citizens apply?

Yes, we welcome people from all countries. Our main requirement is that you are serious about the projects. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you should make inquiries in your country of residence about your eligibility for tax deductions for this kind of venture.

Do I need a visa to enter Thailand?

Yes. You are responsible for obtaining the appropriate visa for your time in Thailand. For stays longer than 30 days, Cultural Canvas Thailand will provide you with the necessary forms.

Volunteers from the following countries receive a 30 day visa upon arrival to Thailand:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.

For stays lasting 30-90 days, apply for a single-entry tourist visa from the Thai Embassy of your jurisdiction. You will be required to provide a passport, an application form, two passport photos, a self-addressed stamped envelope and a $25 fee. This visa is good for 60 days and can be extended to 90 days for a fee (around $50 USD) at the Chiang Mai immigration office. The single-entry visa must be used within 90 days from the date of issuance. You will need to show proof of having enough money to support yourself for the additional month in Thailand (approximately $250).


Payment FAQs

Why do I have to pay to volunteer?

As a potential Cultural Canvas Thailand volunteer, you may wonder why there is a fee associated with volunteering. After all, you are offering your time, energy and skills for free. This is when you should consider the needs of the organization you are helping and the costs associated with volunteering. The organizations that you will be helping have limited resources and cannot afford the staff and administrative costs of coordinating volunteers, let alone the costs of food, transport, accommodation, insurance; all of which are prearranged and provided for you upon arrival by Cultural Canvas Thailand. Additionally, operating a volunteer program has many hidden costs such as volunteer handbooks, utilities, screening, training and supervision. Clearly, your host organization could better spend their funds on achieving their specific missions by hiring local staff that will be available year-round. Thus, is it important to understand that you are not paying to volunteer; instead, you are paying for placement research and to sustain and educate yourself while in Thailand.

For a breakdown of the program fee to better understand how your money is allocated please click here.

Can I fund-raise for my trip?

Yes. In fact, getting other people involved in your efforts is another great way to raise public awareness and help to further our mission. Cultural Canvas Thailand is a registered nonprofit and this should be helpful when fund-raising. The program fees and airfare are tax deductible in the U.S. for U.S. citizens only. Therefore, your supporters can make tax deductible contributions to Cultural Canvas Thailand which we can apply directly to your program fees. Cultural Canvas Thailand has a RootFunding page and has run several Indiegogo campaigns, which enables volunteers to fundraise for their programs. Please email for more information.


Program FAQs

What is the difference between the Community Programs and the Art Relief Program?

The Community Programs place volunteers in other organizations located around Chiang Mai city where they become a part of the daily workings of their host organization. The Art Relief Program is an artistic outreach program at Art Relief International, an organization developed by Cultural Canvas Thailand that works with a diversity of struggling social groups in Chiang Mai.

What is artistic outreach?

At Cultural Canvas Thailand, you can participate in our Art Relief Program, a volunteer program that promotes artistic outreach using a wide range of artistic media. This program utilizes art activity as a therapeutic means for numerous groups to escape the problems which they face on a day-to-day basis. It also creates a platform for cultural engagement among various individuals from diverse and backgrounds, including you, the volunteer. The art created in our Art Relief Program provides a means of reducing stigma and generating awareness of the numerous social issues faced in Chiang Mai.

The program is run in conjunction with local artists.

Why artistic media?

Art, in any form, can be used to bring communities together to learn about each other from each other. It is a therapeutic activity used as a form of relaxation and release. We use art to create an atmosphere of inclusion and belonging where often there is none. Art evokes emotions and is used to broadcast feelings and ideas that are often difficult to describe in words. Thus, it can be used as means of cross-cultural communication, bridging gaps where even language is not sufficient enough to communicate.

What does the program fee cover?

At Cultural Canvas Thailand, we have developed an all-inclusive volunteer program, allowing you to concentrate on providing your host organization with the best service that you can.

Program fees cover the following:

  • Pre-trip orientation: Our Cultural Canvas Orientation Kit provides you with the necessary documents to sufficiently prepare for your trip to Chiang Mai. It includes information on the issue pertaining to your chosen program, insurance forms, a recommended reading list, and information about Thailand’s culture and customs.
  • In-country orientation: Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, you will be collected and transported to the Cultural Canvas Thailand Home-Base. Here, you will be greeted by the Thai program director and staff, who will be able to provide you with the necessary information and tips for your stay in Thailand and answers to any questions you may have.
  • Accommodation: CCT's modest Thai-style house is where most of your eating, sleeping and relaxing will take place. Our house is located in the Charoen neighbourhood, steps away from the Ping River, as well sa art galleries and coffee shops. The house is also a quick walk away from many markets, including northern Thailand's biggest market, Kad Luang.
  • Food: Our in-house cook will provide two delicious, home-cooked Thai meals per day six days per week. A light breakfast is always available with cereal, fruit, toast, coffee and tea. On Sunday, volunteers can cook for themselves at the Home-Base or grab a bite to eat in one of the many near-by markets or restaurants. In Chiang Mai, a delicious meal costs roughly 0.75USD. Please let us know any specific dietary restrictions in advance so that all of your needs can be taken care of.
  • Transportation: The Cultural Canvas Thailand driver will collect you from the home-base and transport you to your placement organization daily.
  • Thai language training: The program fee includes three hours of Thai language class. Addition classes are not included in the fee, but can be arranged.
  • Insurance: Cultural Canvas Thailand staff will provide you with comprehensive medical and emergency evacuation insurance coverage for the duration of your stay. In case of injury you will be admitted to one of Chiang Mai's top private hospitals.
  • Support and Safety: Our staff will be on site 24 hours to provide any support that you may need. Emergency telephone calls can be made to and from our home-base telephone line 24 hours per day, while our 24 hour hotline is a convenient option for calls from the U.S.  

What kind of living accommodation is covered by the program fee?

CCT's modest Thai-style house is where most of your eating, sleeping and relaxing will take place. Our house, located on Charoen Mueang Road, steps away from the Mae Ping River, art galleries, and coffee shops. The CCT Home-Base offers western-style toilets and a hot shower. There is a small garden and a great reading room for relaxing. The kitchen fridge is available to store drinks and any other foods that may need to be kept cool.

What type of pre-trip orientation is provided?

Once you have signed up for a program, you will receive an orientation manual with all the relevant information about Thailand and the project you will be working on. You will also receive a packing list, health and travel information, and a recommended reading list. Please try and take the time to investigate the issues pertaining to your placement prior to arriving in Chiang Mai.

What if I arrive in Chiang Mai prior to my program start date or leave after the program end date?

All Cultural Canvas Thailand programs run from Saturday-Saturday. If you choose to arrive prior to the program start date, you are responsible for securing transportation from the airport and housing until their official program start date. These expenses are not covered by the program fee. 

If you choose to leave Chiang Mai after the official program end date, you will still need to vacate the volunteer home by the program end date and will be responsible for securing your own housing at your own expense for the duration of your stay. If your departure flight is within 1-2 days of your program end date, as a courtesy, Cultural Canvas Thailand will provide transportation to the airport. 

Can I extend my volunteer placement after I’ve arrived in Chiang Mai?

It is preferable that we know your intended length of stay prior to your arrival so that we can properly prepare your paperwork, insurance, placement, etc.

Will I have any free time?

Yes, you will have free time in the evenings and weekends. On the weekends, you will be free to travel and explore surrounding areas (our staff will be happy to advise you on any excursions you might want to take) or you can stay in Chiang Mai and become more familiar with the local community. You are also welcome to do any traveling on your own before or after your placement, however, this may affect the tax deductibility of your airfare.

Can special diet requirements be accommodated?

Our cook can accommodate most dietary restrictions as long as we know in advance. Please specify any dietary needs when applying.

What happens in the case of an emergency?

The health and safety of all Cultural Canvas Thailand volunteers is paramount. However, in the case of an emergency, contact between the volunteer and home can be made through our Florida office or our Chiang Mai Program Coordinator via our 24-hour hotline. In Chiang Mai, phone service and internet and reliable and easily accessible facilitating contact with those at home. In the event of a medical emergency, volunteers will be taken to one of Chiang Mai’s high-quality hospitals. Additionally, for the duration of service, volunteers are covered by emergency medical and evacuation insurance that is included in the program fee.

What about CO2 pollution I create when flying to Thailand?

Although Cultural Canvas Thailand works with humanitarian issues, we are also aware of the importance of being environmentally conscientious.  After all, without a clean, safe environment to inhabit, our efforts would be futile. As you may know, green house gases like carbon dioxide are emitted when flying in a plane. These gases stay in our atmosphere and contribute to global warming.  To counterbalance this, you can buy Carbon Offsets. By purchasing Carbon Offsets, you invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce carbon emissions. By clicking the link below, you can learn more on how to compensate for the damage made to the environment while traveling to and from Thailand. You will also find a calculator that provides a simple means of measuring your emission levels.